Irony in Gordimer's Stories

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Suzanna Hanafy
3/3/13
Honors English 9
Irony in Gordimer’s two stories
Gordimer used irony in both stories “The Moment Before the Gun Went Off” and “Once Upon a Time”. Irony played an essential role in these short stories and coincidentally, they both ended with a similar conclusion, the death of a family member. Moreover, both stories revealed Gordimer’s visions of post-apartheid. Sadly, due to Gordimer's description of South African apartheid, the South African government censored her books. In “Once Upon a Time”, irony was extremely pronounced, however, in “The Moment Before the Gun Went Off”, it was vague.

The French proverb “One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it” described the irony in the story “Once Upon a Time”. Gordimer displayed irony as the family members tried to protect themselves from the black. The family members attached burglar bars to the doors and windows of the house and installed an alarm for protection. Nevertheless, all these precautions did not provide safety. On the other hand, the immensely taken precautions caused the death of their son, as he was imitating the Prince in his fairy tale, the security device trapped him. This incident was ironic, as the family members spent almost all of their money buying security devices to assure their safety. However, it did not end up as everyone wished. “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”-Sir Winston Churchill

The second short story, "The Moment Before the Gun Went Off", included two examples of irony. Gordimer's goal in this short story was to link the two races as victims of the inequalities of apartheid. In the story, the author criticized the blacks even though the author was anti-apartheid. For instance, on page 115, in the second paragraph "The young wife is pregnant (of course)." In this example, the author was criticizing how the black had a tendency of having many kids. Thus, it...
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